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The Brief: April 20, 2010

As Bill White continues to drill Gov. Rick Perry over the state’s education record, poll numbers show the former Houston mayor is gaining some traction against the decade-long incumbent.

Rick Perry, Bill White

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

As Bill White continues to drill Gov. Rick Perry over the state’s education record, poll numbers show he's gaining some traction against the decade-long incumbent.

While White stumped in San Antonio yesterday, he pointed to Perry’s lack of support for the University of Texas at San Antonio in its ambitions to become a Tier One research university and said the governor had not done enough to support higher education in the state. He also tweaked the governor for declining to apply to Race to the Top, the federal education grant program.

The remarks in San Antonio come after a San Marcos event on Friday, where White took aim at the State Board of Education in front of a group of several hundred teachers, asking “Wouldn't it be great to have a governor who appointed a State Board of Education chair who understood that you ought to leave the curriculum to professionals?”

Meanwhile, the Perry campaign released the latest in its satiric “Bill White University” series, where students can learn various topics, including “how to hide your income taxes from the people of Texas” and “how to deny you are a trial lawyer even when court records prove you are one.”

The latest Rasmussen numbers show Perry hovering just below 50 percent. White is just four points behind him at 44 percent, the best results yet for the former Houston mayor. 

And no matter who inherits the Governor’s Mansion after November will likely face a delay before they’ll be able to move in: the Antiquities Advisory Board, which was supposed to select a plan for an addition to the residence yesterday, pushed the decision onto the full Historical Commission board, citing security concerns and saying they needed more details to fully assess the two plans currently before them.

One last thing, in case you were wondering: Perry’s NASCAR car finished 23rd yesterday at a Fort Worth racetrack.

CULLED:

• From the department of unfortunate statistics: Dallas County has the highest rate of HIV infection in the state — a ranking it’s held for several years. When the county saw its increasing rates of infection in 2008, it rescinded a 13-year ban on condom distribution, but AIDS service groups say another clinic is needed: “The HIV epidemic in Dallas County is reaching crisis levels in terms of our city’s health status, economics, and quality of life.”

• The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t getting involved in the case of Charles Dean Hood, the Texas man sentenced to death in 1990 on double-murder charges. During Hood’s trial, the judge and his prosecutor had a romantic relationship, which they admitted under testimony last year. After issuing a reprieve the day before Hood was scheduled to die in 2008, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new sentencing trial at the end of last year, but left the conviction intact. In addition to Hood’s case, the nation's high court also declined to hear four other death row cases from the state.

• Homeowners who said overzealous homeowners’ associations fine them thousands of dollars for using the wrong color tape to cover water lines, dictate how many lilies to plant in a flower bed, and wield foreclosure threats to get their way gathered at the Capitol yesterday to testify before the House Business and Industry Committee to urge legislators to remove incentives for abuse in the law.

• Gay Jesus may have found a home after all. The Cathedral of Hope, a Dallas church focused on gay and lesbian Christians, may produce the play by Terrence McNally that features a 20th century Christ (named Joshua) who kisses Judas at his senior prom. This comes after a Fort Worth theater went back on its announcement it would host the play originally cancelled by Tarleton State University after widespread outcry from conservative leaders around the state — including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

“We Texans send billions of dollars to Washington, D.C., in the form of federal gas taxes and income taxes. These are Texas-earned, Texas-generated dollars — monumental amounts of money, substantially more than flows back into this state. So the idea that we’re going to be purer than pure and not take any money back because it’s been identified as stimulus dollars? These are our dollars. This is our money.” — Gov. Perry, on accepting federal stimulus money, during a sit-down with The Texas Tribune.

MUST READ:

Learning under fire: Tension mounts as extortion threats escalateEl Paso Times

Divorce dilemma: Texas says gays can't get divorceThe Associated Press

Lockdowns becoming common among area schoolsRio Grande Guardian

$153,800 Per ArrestThe Texas Tribune

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